Column: Goodbye college process, hello sweet freedom


Photo credit: Grace Wilson

Grace Wilson (‘20) sits at her desk while working at the law firm. She has been working at this office since the end of her junior year in high school.

By Grace Wilson, Columnist

It is now March, meaning all of us seniors have submitted our college applications, and while not all of us are quite complete with the process (most admission decisions are released later this month), right now feels like an appropriate time as any to reflect on the college process. 

I spent the summer before my senior year interning at a law firm (sounds super fancy-schmancy —  I know — but I was really just filing bills and refilling a Keurig tank for five hours a day). Anyway, I only visited the office once or twice during first semester because I was so darn busy with applications, schoolwork and all that good stuff. However, as my schedule freed up, I began frequenting the firm more and more over winter break and into second semester. 

When I first returned to the office, sat in the chair I had sat in daily for three months straight, smelled the stale air of my cubicle and heard the unending whir of the copy machine (what an exciting environment!), I was brought back to the distant days of summer. And while this experience evoked some joyous memories — like my boss bringing in pastries each Friday — what I was reminded of most was the relationship I had with the college process during summer. 

And what was my relationship with the college process like during that period of time? Well, let me tell you. My personal college process stress was neither all-consuming nor super toxic, but I was naturally still quite aware — painfully at times — of the situation at hand which required me to write a bunch of silly essays. Not to mention that I felt a slight stab at my gut each time I imagined graduating, growing up, yadda, yadda, yadda.

As such, my law firm days were clouded with my not-all-consuming-but-still-somewhat-consuming college process stress. 

For example, every day at the office, I manically scribbled down supplemental essay ideas on post-it notes and stuffed them into my purse so that by the end of the week, my bag overflowed with squares of turquoise and yellow. While eating lunch in the break room, I drafted, re-drafted and, right when I thought I couldn’t anymore, re-re-drafted my personal statement. And all throughout the week, I wrote reminders for various other college process duties on my handy-dandy legal pad. 

At that point in my senior year narrative, getting into college felt like everything. Even as I filed invoices and pre-bills, it was still at the forefront of my mind. The college process was inescapable, and not just because the emotions surrounding it were so intense; there was simply so much to get done. But now, in the glorious month of March, I have no applications or essays to work on. I am free at last!

Transitioning from so much work to so little in a matter of weeks is absolutely odd. I often feel as if there is something more I should be doing, like I am forgetting about some major assessment, but the truth is just that my body and mind had been trained for so long — months, years — to think about college admissions, and I am still getting used to not having that sensation. 

It is surreal to think back to who I was and how I acted when I worked over summer. When I think of that girl, poor little Gracie, I feel such extreme empathy. She barely saw an end in sight, she was never satisfied with any amount of work and she wrote until she forgot how. And while I don’t regret how I went about anything, I wish I could scream in that girl’s ear that everything will get done, and that, in March, she won’t remember if she ended up using a compound sentence or a compound-complex sentence for the final line of her personal statement.

In March, it will all seem like some distant memory and she will be proud of herself no matter what just because she got through it.